Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wow -- I Like Fruit Now!

I never understood the appeal of fresh fruit. Even as a child, when kids all around me were opting for a shiny red apple over, say, split pea soup, I didn't get it. Although as I put it that way, I begin to understand what an odd child I was. Actually, the idea of fresh fruit was tantalizing to me, the bright, shiny colors, the pretty shapes, the promise of sweetness .  .  .  but the disappointment of biting into something so lovely to find it mealy and flavorless or hard as a rock and bitter was a turnoff.  Honestly, over the course of my life I can count the times I enjoyed fresh fruit on only one hand. Each time I was surprised by a flavorful fruit, I hoped to replicate the experience and was, again, disappointed. I caught on pretty quickly that I just had different taste buds from most other folks, who continued to ooh and aah over food I ate only because I knew I should.

What has always appealed most to me (pre-vegan) is the savory (like creamed spinach, sauteed mushrooms) the starchy (macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings), the fatty (fish and chips), the piquant (capers, pickles), the spicy (Mexican, Thai, Indian).  Growing up, our special occasion food, our comfort food, was usually rich with fresh vegetables from the garden, which have never been a disappointment to me. When I grocery shop now, the bountiful greens and root veggies are what delight my eye. But the other day at the store, I smelled something -- something sweet and rich, seductive and mysterious. I smelled peaches. I had never smelled peaches before, unless it was one of the notes in someone's perfume. This is very strange, I realize, since I live in Georgia! The peaches have been there all along, but they didn't call to me, my chemistry was not compatible with them. I am 5 months into being dairy- and meat-free, so I believe it is as if layers of sludge (most likely dairy -- I am sure now that I am lactose intolerant) have been sloughed off and I have taste buds that are like new, and able to process certain fresh flavors that were heretofore masked. I put several of these lovelies in a bag and took them home.

Since purchasing the peaches, in our busy summer household a couple of days have gone by. This morning, as I was sipping my coffee, I noticed there were only two left, and they were both in the very early stages of rot. Overripe, the fruits had begun to shrink in slightly upon themselves. Very soft, but not yet mushy, the velvety surface had tiny wrinkles forming, not unlike parts of my own middle-aged face. The scent had become intoxicating. Those rotting peaches were so appealing to me, I had to have them right away!! Like a woman possessed, I quickly cut them from the pits, and (don't ask me why -- I had no reason to think this was a good idea) I grabbed a handful of fresh mint from a glass of water on the counter and roughly tore it into pieces, enhancing what turned out to be a very pretty picture and an amazing flavor.  Pausing only long enough to snap a photo, I then chose a comfy chair with an ottoman, put my feet up and had the most satisfying fruit experience of my life.

Now, I notice the little voice in my head, out of habit, saying, "Well, that was great, but don't get your hopes up, you know how it goes with fruit," But I suspect there will be a difference for me from here on out. I did SMELL the fruit for the first time, did I not?  I'll keep you posted.

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